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Favorite 10 CDs of 2004

A long, overdue list

by j. brotherlove

Finally, I have had enough time and energy to post my favorite music of 2004. Better late than never, right?

Keep in mind these are my “favorite” (not necessarily the best) CDs of the year; although the two descriptions often interesect. I consider these releases my favorites because they were innovative, exemplary or somehow captured my attention enough to make me spin them more than any other discs in 2004.

First, here are some discs I liked a lot but didn’t make it to the top of my list:

  • Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly ~ Amp Fiddler
  • Journey Into Day ~ Seek
  • Seek ~ Beanfield
  • Presents: The Vault 1.5 ~ Eric Roberson
  • That Day ~ Magic Number
  • Confessions ~ Usher
  • The Servant Master ~ Michael Johnson
  • Corduroy Boogie ~ Ivana Santilli
  • Free ~ Carmen Rogers
  • Stone Love ~ Angie Stone
  • Comin’ From Where I’m From - Anthony Hamilton
  • Air ~ Walkie Talkie
  • Afrodisiac ~ Brandy

Good stuff, there. You may be scratching your head over that last one. However, despite making my most disappointing list, I still played that Brandy joint quite a bit.

As for my favorite 10 CDs of 2004:

Adriana Evans
Buy it from Amazon
While many of my contemporaries shunned it, I was so impressed with this CD I reviewd it. Evans returns after an extended absence with an ecletic set of rock, soul, reggae-fusion. Every song isn’t a homerun. But the good stuff is really good and the effort she gives is genuine.

Let’s Talk About It
Carl Thomas
Buy it from Amazon
What? Yes. I found Carl Thomas’ sophomore CD excellent (better than Usher’s 2004 offering - which was also good). While his voice isn’t as sound as before, the songs are infectious from beginning to end and very well-produced. A solid R&B set.

Van Hunt
Van Hunt
Buy it from Amazon
Everything I wrote in my review of Van Hunt still stands (here or here). Van Hunt is a fresh and soulful artist sorely needed in this time of thoughtless jingles passed on as music. I’m still waiting for him to cut loose though (like I know he can).

Strange Flower
Buy it from Amazon
Ambient, downtempo and deliciously groovy like only a Naked Music release can be. Aya’s delicate voice dances on top of grooves and even travels into some pop areas (where she bears a scary resemblance to Janet). A solid debut for the chill set.

Restless Times
Clara Hill
Buy it from Amazon
Clara Hill’s work with Jazzanova, Victor Davies, and a host of other notables is legendary. Her debut solo CD, Restless Times, is a complicated mix of downtempo, electronic and pop songs that permeate the conscious. Her songs are a contemplative and progessive approach to the futuristic pop music.

After Hours
Rahsaan Patterson
Buy it from Amazon
Rahsaan can pretty much do no wrong by me. His latest collection of introspective soul is heads above his contemporaries, showing a definitive talent for songwriting, producing and adapting his versatile and pristeen vocals. This is the type of honest musicianship popular R&B artists should strive to achieve.

Under The Munka Moon
Alice Russell
Buy it from Amazon
Under The Munka Moon is one of those releases that snuck up on me and dominated my playlists. Similar to Clara Hill, however, Alice Russell’s voice and approach to songs are more soulful, versatile and trendy. This kitchen sink of a debut includes a healthy mix of acoustic, electronic, and blusey tunes. Wow.

Tortured Soul
Buy it from CDBaby
Complete house CDs always grab my interest. Tortured Soul’s specialty is live instrumentation and a great groove with a side of jazz. You have to see this band perform live (like I did) to get the full impact. The elation from dancing to a live house band is incomparable. But don’t try to pigeonhole them as just a house band - their downtempo and instrumental jazz track are exemplary.

Ancestry In Progress
Zap Mama
Buy it from Amazon
In October, I predicted Ancestry in Progress would be one of the year’s best releases. The collection is so delicious and buttery is deserves its own genre. I could never stop listening to the disc long enough to write a formal review. Simply put, the combination of global sounds (as opposed to “world”) almost defy any descriptions I can give it. You should already own this.

Three Street Worlds
Two Banks Of Four
Buy it from Amazon
Brilliant is the best description I have for this collection of retro/future jazz, downtempo and soulful music. Dillip Harris and Robert Gallagher enlist top talent who expertly craft songs that dance on the senses and linger in the heads of jazz fans, clubbers and chillout parlor audiences. Definitively London, this instant classic was largely ignored by non-tastemakers but demonstrative of the spirit of new music. Vocals by Valarie Etienne easily help to make this my favorite disc of 2004. Their website is a kick in the head, too.

Still not conviced? Listen to my brotherlounge vol iii - favorite of 2004 to hear a selection of songs from this list.

Eagerly anticipating in 2005…
Tennessee Slim Is The Bomb by Joi, A Change Is Gonna Come by Leela James, The Emancipation of Mimi by Mariah Carey and, above all, Kate Bush’s well-overdue return to music.

pub: 01/17/2005 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 8 | subscribe

(I know you meant Van Hunt and not Ban Hunt, must be my vision)…

You caught me with my pants down with not having Two Banks of Four on my list- that’s because D-Nice never mentioned it, even though I saw it all the time, and thus I never ever picked it up- and I was at the rekkasto this weekend too. I’m so lame.

Does Anthony Hamilton count for 2004? And I didn’t even know Joi had another one coming out…woaaaaaah….

And yes, I will be checking out the brotherlounge vol. ii.

Oh yeah, and your Lewis Taylor awaits, but as you can see, I wasn’t too excited about picking up my copy either….

Damn spellcheck!

Nice list! Van Hunt! Aya! Yes!!! Props!!

I agree on the Adriana, her song made by best songs list but not my CD’s…but just barely. I opted for Gaelle in place of Aya and I have never heard of Two Banks of Fours but obviously from what I hear, I’ve been missing something good. Thanks for the ping ;-)

Nice list. I liked Clara and Tortured Soul. Didn’t quite understand the Van Hunt thing. He was like, in one ear and out the other (for me, at least). I think I got burnt out on Aya after hearing her saturate the Sweetback CD.

This all sounds negative, doesn’t it? *lol* I really need to listen to some Joi. And oh my gosh, Kate Bush is coming back. *le gasp* I’m still needing to go back and try my hand at Kate. In the meantime, I’m still loving the other, quirky redhead (who also has a CD coming out in February of this year). :)

Man, I had no idea Clara Hill had a Cd out. That mess she did with Jazzanova on “There’s No Use” is still on my hot tracks list. I hear a cash register :-).

Ah yes, Zap Mama’s Ancestry In Progress was/is a great album — I have a couple of her songs floating in my iPod.

This is a top-notch “year-end” list. I like the fact that I have never heard of these albums before. That means more new music to dump into my ipod — and that’s cool.

Also, bravo to your 10 (Least) Favorite CDs of 2004 list, as well. You’re the only one that I have seen that flipped a list like that.

Of course, I’m saddened that you didn’t like Lalah Hathaway’s CD Outrun the Sky. I didn’t find her music mediocre. She hit all the right notes for me and touched my heart with many of her songs. Granted “Your Favorite Song” is dumb, but “Boston,” “If U Ever” and “More and More” are simply divine to me.

Yes, brotherlove, Lalah is rotating heavily in my iPod. It’s my road dawg music when I’m riding on the train heading home after a long, tiring day at work.

Oh and thank you for introducing Van Hunt to the world. I’m a music journalist in the music biz and I didn’t know Van Hunt’s CD was in the record stores. (Capitol Records gets the gas face for dropping the ball on this talented musician.) I get a lot of music from the record labels — all crap, I tell ya. But it was your blog (review) on Van Hunt’s very soulful self-titled CD that got me hip to this cat. Thank you because I totally enjoyed that disc the whole entire year. You get major props for that. Van Hunt is cool. I wish him much success in the foreseebable future.

Although I have to say Martin Luther’s Rebel Soul Music CD — IMHO — is truly a soulful masterpiece. Just a monster R&B/Soul album.

Well, that’s it.

Great job, brotherlove.

Let’s do it again in the ‘05.

Thanks, Trent.

I agree about Lalah’s “Boston”. That tune makes me want to well up. Gotta be careful listening to that cut in public. I suck for not copping Rebel Soul Music after you gave Martin Luther the thumbs up, last year. I just didn’t buy a lot of music in 2004. I must rectify that this go round.